On the last leg of his nine-day visit to India, Prince Charles (Nov. 14), while in Kerala, is reported to have evinced interest in man-elephant conflicts. Conservationists replied that it is man who has been trespassing on elephant habitat and not the other way round. Which brings me to the subject — the alarming increase in elephant deaths in the forests of West Bengal due to the Railways’ indifference (“FIR against Railways for elephant deaths,” Nov. 15). It was not very long ago that there were similar accidents in the south. The reason is that the core message of conservation has not percolated to the level of running staff. Second, rail tracks in forest areas must be raised. Third, the Railways must identify portions of land to raise tree cover.
In the U.S and Europe, there are passages called wildlife crossings. These include underpass tunnels, viaducts, overpasses and bridges, amphibian tunnels, fish ladders, culverts and green roofs. Wildlife passages are significant as they allow re-connections between habitats. Further, they avoid collisions of vehicles/trains with animals. Around 600 tunnels have been dug in the Netherlands to help the endangered European Badger. The Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, has 24 wildlife crossings to help many species migrate, while Germany has built underpasses to help frogs. Rather than scoff at the suggestion, India must consider the idea of having passages for the mobility of wild elephants and other species in the Western Ghats and in West Bengal.
Madan Menon Thottasseri,
Keywords: man-elephant conflicts